Montreal used to be well known for having enough housing options with reasonably priced rents to choose from, but all that has changed. By 2018, the vacancy rate dropped to a record low of 1.9% and now it has plummeted even further. The city is facing its lowest vacancy rates in 15 years, with rates dropping to 1.5% – while rents have gone up 3.6% on average according to the CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation).
Montreal’s vacancy rate plummets to a 15 year low
The city is working on a project to build 12,000 housing projects and has secured 50% of the funding needed, and they are asking the Provincial and Federal governments to help finance the other 50%. In the meantime, Mayor Plante is advising tenants who are thinking of moving this year to not cancel their present leases until they have signed a new one – although it could be a conundrum for many renters who need to give advanced notice of non-renewal.
According to a recent rental market report, the average rent for a presently vacant two-bedroom apartment in Montreal is $1,080, bringing it close to 25% more than the average for rental units that are now occupied. The increases are being attributed to several factors, such as foreign students and temporary workers who prefer rental units, an aging senior population who often choose to downsize and rent a place instead, as well as the rising prices of homes keeping fewer people under the age of 35 years old from buying homes.
Trying to find an Apartment in Montreal
Another problem behind the increases, beside the lack of social housing, are apartment buildings being converted to Airbnb hotels – estimated to have pulled more than 4,500 units off the market. Add in the dozens of condo developments going up in Montreal, catering to the higher-income groups – the reality for those searching for an affordable place is even more challenging. It is a crisis and tenant rights groups have been calling for tougher rental control action from the Quebec government. It is a situation needing to be urgently addressed, otherwise those who are unable to find a place to live will be sitting in limbo again this year, desperately trying to find somewhere to call home.